Autonomous Weapons and International Humanitarian Law
Ever since the advent ofthe industrial revolution in the nineteenth century, weaponization in warfare has been undergoing a technological revolution of its own. The radical transformation in the field has rapidly accelerated in the era of computers and electronics. Some modernistic weapons—such as blinding laser beams—have been spurned by States and banned by treaty (usually on the ground that they cause superfluous injury or unnecessary suffering). But the vast majority of state-of-the-art means of warfare have met little or no resistance by the international community, and have been smoothly incorporated in the arsenals of actual or potential Belligerent Parties eager to employ them and able to afford the expense entailed.
When novel weapons catch the attention of the public at large, Governments—particularly in democratic countries—cannot be entirely oblivious to popular perceptions and even prejudices. Whereas public opinion may occasionally be mesmerized by a pioneering...